One of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls is also one the easiest to get to. Located between Reykjavik and Vik just past Seljalandsfoss waterfall in South Iceland, this stunning cascade is a must-see attraction for anyone making their way around Iceland’s Ring Road. Skógafoss waterfall makes for both a great day trip from Reykjavik or part of a larger Icelandic itinerary. You’ll most definitely get soaked as you approach from either the front of the falls or the observational platform on top that provides amazing views from above. The waterfall’s spray is known for regularly producing a rainbow (and sometimes double rainbow) on days when it’s sunny. You can walk right up to the water, just make sure you pack your rain jacket and waterproof hiking boots.
An interesting fact about Skógafoss is that its cliffs used to be part of the coastline. The impressive, 60-meter (197 foot) drop is one of the largest in Iceland. Like many parts of this area, the terrain was formed by glacial activity during the last Ice Age. Intense pressure from glacial movements pushed down the ground, and when the ice caps melted, the coastline receded toward the sea. This left the gorgeous natural wonder, with its steep cliffs and water flows from the Skóga river, that we see today.
How to Arrive
It takes just over two hours driving from Reykjavik to reach Skógafoss. Head east on the Ring Road going toward Vik. As you drive along the simple country road, you’ll pass the Thórsmörkvegur turn-off point for Seljalandsfoss on your left. Continue onward for another 27 km (17 miles), and you’ll turn left onto Skógar road. There’s a little red and white sign that will indicate where you turn and you can actually see the falls in the distance. Leave your vehicle in the parking lot at the end of the road. If you’re traveling from Vik, you’ll want to head west on Route 1 (the Ring Road) towards Reykjavik. Skógafoss is about 30 minutes away when coming from this direction.
Legends of Treasure at Skógafoss
There’s actually a special legend surrounding Skógafoss. Rumor has it that over a thousand years ago, the Viking settler Þrasi Þórólfsson hid a treasure chest behind the waterfall. The chest was filled with gold, jewels, and other precious booty. There is actually a folk rhyme in Icelandic that tells the tale of the treasure.
“Þrasakista auðug er
undir fossi Skóga,
hver sem þangað fyrstur fer
finnur auðlegð nóga.”
A rough translation to English would be:
“Þrasi’s treasure chest of riches
underneath Skógafoss waterfall,
whoever gets there first
will find plenty of wealth”.
Go try your luck at Skógafoss and try to find Þrasi’s treasure!
Tent Camping at Skógafoss Waterfall and Facilities for Campers
If treasure hunting is not for you, there are other things to do here. For nature lovers, Skógafoss is an ideal destination. Unlike many of Iceland’s popular attractions, you can actually camp here. Waking up to the smell of fresh, green grass and the sound of a gushing waterfall sounds just perfect, doesn’t it? There’s even a hedge barrier where you can place your tent as a type of natural wind block. If you’re planning on tent camping at Skógafoss, there’s something you should know in advance. The facilities at Skógar Campground are minimal with just a few toilets, showers, and an outdoor kitchen. If I remember correctly, this is one of those campsites that only has cold water. This may have changed. I would recommend just staying for a night or two and if possible, come with a campervan or motorhome. Whichever option you choose, you’ll get the experience of waking up next to a waterfall, which is everyone’s Iceland dream!
A Visit to Skógafoss Waterfall
Skógafoss doesn’t have the outstanding reputation of Icelandic waterfalls like the beautiful Seljalandsfoss or the powerful Dettifoss. With that in mind, it still warrants your attention and should definitely be a stop on your Icelandic itinerary. It’s really easy to get to and is just a quick detour while traveling on the Ring Road. Let us know what you think of Skógafoss and if it’s one of your favorite waterfalls in Iceland.